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tv   All In With Chris Hayes  MSNBC  August 30, 2013 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT

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words? so here we go with another bite-sized war that even david letterman laughs when he hears it's going to last, you love this, two days. that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. have a safe and happy labor day weekend. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. u.n. inspectors tonight are preparing to leave syria in anticipation of an imminent strike by forces of the united states. a strike which seems all but assured after the secretary of state john kerry came before the nation today with a stunningly aggressive case for military intervention in syria. he began what he called facts about the chemical weapons attack that took place near damascus last week. >> we know that for three days before the attack, the syrian regime's chemical weapons personnel were on the ground in
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the area making preparations. we know where the rockets were launched from and at what time. we know where they landed and when. the united states government now knows that at least 1,429 syrians were killed in this attack, including at least 426 children. we know that a senior regime official who knew about the attack confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime. the american intelligence community has high confidence. high confidence. this is common sense. this is evidence. these are facts. the question is what are we collectively? what are we in the world going to do about it? >> after ticking through the
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evidence in an intelligence report, he move on to why a chemical attack on the syrian people matters to the united states. >> 100 years ago in direct response to the utter horror and inhumanity of world war i that the civilized world agreed that chemical weapons should never be used again. it matters today that we are working as an international community to rid the world of the worst weapons. it matters to our security and the security of our allies. it matters because a lot of other countries whose policies challenge these international norms are watching. what we choose to do or not to matters in real ways to our own security. some cite the risk of doing things, but we need to ask what is the risk of doing nothing? >> secretary kerry speaking directly to the american people then made two things very clear. the united states will go it
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completely alone if it judges it necessary, and the american people's war fatigue is not, in his mind, an excuse for inaction. >> president obama will ensure that the united states of america makes our own decisions on our own timelines based on our values and our interests. we know that after a decade of conflict, the american people are tired of war. believe me, i am, too. but fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility. just longing for peace does not necessarily bring it about, and history would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator's wanton use of weapons of mass destruction against all warnings, against all common understanding of decency. these things we do know.
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>> john kerry's extremely strong statement this afternoon seemed to leave almost zero doubt the white house intended to act unilaterally in syria with a military strike, but then rather confusingly, it was almost immediately followed up with a statement from the president, himself, at an event with baltic leaders that if not substantively opposed to kerry, the opposite in tone. >> the world has an obligation to make sure that we maintain the norm against the use of chemical weapons. now, i have not made a final decision about various actions that might be taken to help enforce that norm. i have had my military and our team look at a wide range of options. without considering any open-ended commitment, we're not considering any boots-on-the-ground approach. what we will do is consider options that meet the narrow
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concern about chemical weapons, understanding that there's not going to be a solely military solution to the underlying conflict and tragedy that's taking place in syria. >> joining now with the latest is nbc news chief pentagon correspondent, jim miklashevski. jim, what's the latest from the pentagon in terms of whatever preparations are being made? >> well, chris, as the president said, he'd made no final decision. i can tell you there is a final war plan in place here at the pentagon. it would require some last-minute tweaks as the syrian military moves around some of its forces and military assets, but the u.s. military is on standby and ready to pull the trigger. they've got five guided missiles destroyers there in the eastern mediterranean. each is loaded with as many as 50 tomahawk missiles. by the way, most of the targets are already programmed into those missile warheads, even this far in advance of any
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potential launch. in addition, you know, there is the "u.s.s. san antonio," an amphib ship, with 300 marines aboard that moved into the eastern part today and they're not going to be involved in this operation against syria, but any time you're involved in a military operation, things go wrong and they're just standing there just in case. the primary targets, again, are chemical weapons command and control centers. no the weapons, themselves. and the delivery systems. artillery, rockets, and any aircraft that is associated with that chemical weapons program. >> jim, can i ask you this? >> sure. >> can i ask you, is there a tactical logic that i am not grasping behind what has been essentially telegraphing this strike for days now and the nature of what it might be, the artillery that might be involved and targets we might go at. what is the thinking there about going about it in this fashion? >> a tactical logic, no, as a
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matter of fact, there are already reports that the syrian military is dispersing many of those assets. so it may take many more cruise missiles than originally planned to take them out. and there are also reports that they're taking prisoners out of their jails, some militants, obviously, and they are dispersing them at some of the potential target sites. so from a military standpoint, this might be considered one of the worst things to do in advance of an attack, but from a political standpoint, it appears that the president believes and the white house believes this is absolutely necessary to win over the american public. polls have shown that most americans are against any kind of attack against syria until you insert, well, what if they're attacked with cruise missiles and there are no boots on the ground? and then the favorable rate for an attack on syria increases. so there's a little bit of
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military and politics which don't always necessarily mix. >> that makes a lot more sense now. nbc news chief pentagon correspondent jim miklashevski. joining me now, congressman jim mcdermott from washington state, par of the bipartisan movement that wants congress to vote before any action in syria. congressman, what was your reaction to john kerry's statements today? >> well, it sounds very much like iraq. we've got the drumbeat of war, and we're giving the -- they're giving us the bums rush that everything is all in line and everything is perfect. i remember colin powell going to the united nations and telling us the very same sort of thing. they knew everything. and you can see what we got out of iraq. i actually remember the attacks that bill clinton made on sudan and afghanistan back in 1995. those were also told that we were going to hit a munitions factory where they were making weapons of mass destruction, and
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we are rushing too fast. the congress should be brought in. we should all be made aware of what's going on. it should not be the president acting unilaterally. it is not his army. it is the army of the united states of america, and we are the ones who are sending them to war and we should vote to do it and take responsibility for it. >> i have not agreed more, congressman. have you communicated with fellow members an this? one of the things i find troubling is the terms of the conversation between congress and the executives seem to be terms of consultation, of briefing, as opposed to assertions of the article 1 power of the constitution. people coming back from recess, joining in the capitol and actually calling a vote which you do not have to wait on the president to do. >> well, that's my view. he could have called us back two, three days ago. i mean, they've been making all these preparations at the pentagon as though we were just bystanders in this whole business. we are the ones who tax the
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people. we raise the money. we buy the weapons. we do all of that. and we put the president in charge of them, but we don't give him the responsibility by himself to pull the trigger. he has to ask us for that. and i come from the vietnam era, so i have a long history of being worried about presidents who act unilaterally and he's doing it again just like george bush did. we made george bush come back to the congress and get a vote before we went into iraq. the congress, i think, made a mistake in doing it, but at least we all took responsibility for what happened. in this one, the president is taking it all on himself. what's the hurry and what is the goal? what are you expecting to be the goal that we accomplish day two after we've shot in 50 tomahawk missiles? when we have taken out assad? is that the goal? or is it take out the syrian
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army? or is it to lay the country waste to make rubble? what is it we are intending to get out of this? >> you clearly want a vote on this, and some of our viewers have been tweeting about this and there's a lot of consternation, obviously, as we stand now in the precipice of what looks like another war in the middle eve. one viewer writing into me, the president needs a vote here if for no other reason to have cover for what happens afterwards. do you think there will be political recriminations after the fact if the president doesn't go to congress? >> well, you know, we've seen how well the drones have worked in pakistan, and we've seen all kinds of collateral damage in pakistan and iraq and we had an 11-year war in which we killed thousands of people, and the long-term effect of that is that it makes a burned memory in the arab -- in the muslim mind about
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whether the united states is after muslims. and i think you have to take this thing very carefully and have everybody understanding what it is we want as a final result. what did we get out of going into iraq? there was no al qaeda in there when we started. we, it turned out, well, we got saddam hussein. was it worth all that mayhem and all the money we spent there for one person? >> that is the question, obviously, that's weighing over the congress, it's weighing over the citizenry as we head into this weekend with everyone on tenterhooks. congressman jim mcdermott. thank you so much. joining me, bill richardson, former democratic governor of new mexico, former u.s. ambassador to the united nations in the clinton administration. it's in that capacity, governor richardson, i'd like to ask the first question about the u.n.'s role in all this. new u.n. ambassador samantha power just has gotten the job in the last week or two. it's clear that the u.n. security council, unlike the libya intervention, won't be signing off on intervention.
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our closest ally, the uk, has said they won't be doing anything. is there any grounding in international law? is it legal under international law for the u.s. to strike syria? >> first, chris, i support the president. i thought secretary kerry was very eloquent in laying out the moral, the legal justifications. i was u.n. ambassador. it'd be nice to get a resolution under chapter 7 authorizing military force. the problem is the russians will veto it. they've said they would. short of that, i would try to get some kind of ban on arm shipments, send assad to the international court of justice that the security council can do. a condemnation statement. i would continue this u.n. effort. at the same time, what we need to assemble to get some legal justification, as we did, for instance, with libya, is what is called a coalition of the
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willing. european countries, arab countries, the arab league has condemned this. i think this -- this is a very tough decision for the president. i was also, chris, a member of congress. i would like the congress to be brought in, but i think here the president has to make the judgment on what's in the national security of the united states. and what he has said and what secretary kerry has said is that there has been a violation of international norms. the gassing, the killing of 1,500 people with nerve gas. at the same time -- >> if i could interject for one second. >> this is a violation of international law. >> let me just say -- >> go ahead, chris. >> two points on this. when you say -- i want to make this clear. when you use the term coalition of the living, are you aware there are americans screaming at their television sets around the country because it is precisely the term used by the bush administration when the u.n. refused to go along with the war in iraq. we look back and say, you know
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what, the u.n. security council was right to not go along with the war in iraq. it has uncomfortable resonances, doesn't it doesn't it? >> the american people are skeptical. no question about this. president has to do what's the best case of the united states. i think the case has been made for us to respond. again, we're not putting boots on the ground. we're not assaulting and trying to have a regime change. it's a very tactical effort. degrade the bomb, the military bomb sites. find ways to destroy the artillery launches of the syrian military. find ways to shift the military momentum away from the syrian military that is winning the war right now. most importantly, a response to these butchering killings. assad cannot get away with what we did, and what i think the
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president is doing, if you get a lot of countries taking stands, is they will put together a coalition. hopefully there will be some action at the u.n. he is consulting with the the congress. the major national security leaders of the congress are being brought in. but this is a very tough decision. >> can i ask you this -- >> i support the president. >> you said assad can not be allowed to get away with this. and i think anyone who's looked at any of the footage, the chemical weapons attack, who is inclined to believe that it was, in fact, the assad regime that did it as was laid out by john kerry, although i have no idea. i haven't seen the unclassified -- the classified intelligence. but let's say that is the case. even the strikes that we're talking about do not mean that assad won't get away with what he did. which is to say if we have some set of limited strikes that take out some kind of -- some artillery or some delivery systems for these kinds of weapons, and then the civil war goes about its business, what exactly is the message there?
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>> well, here's a message, chris. i trust, first of all, i trust our intelligence capability. we have the best intelligence, the facts have been laid out very strongly. i think the u.n. inspectors in the next couple of days with their inspections, with their samples, are going to certify what our intelligence people did. now, we have the best, strongest military in the world. these missiles launchers, these cruise missiles, the tomahawks, they're going to do some damage. now, it's not going to be perfect, but they're strategic. they're not aimed at civilian targets. they're aimed at degrading the military capabilities of the syrian army. the command and control centers. that's what we want to do, chris. the president is not asking for boots on the ground. >> former u.s. ambassador to the united nations, i'm sorry -- >> my last point. this is not iraq. >> i have to go to break. i'm sorry. thank you very much. we'll be right back. former ambassador bill
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richardson. secretary of state august 30th, trying to -- try there are differences. outside skepticism remains the same. we'll talk about that coming up. use angie's list. online or on the phone, we help you hire right the first time with honest reviews on over 720 local services. i want it done right. i don't want to have to worry about it or have to come back and redo it. with angie's list, i was able to turn my home into the home of my dreams. for over 18 years, we've helped people take care of the things that matter most. join today. [ male announcer ] from the last day of school, back to the first. they're gonna make everything from posters to do it yourself tattoos. so make sure they've got the sharpies to make their mark. this week only get sharpie five packs for a dollar. staples has it. staples. that was easy. staples has it. i'to guard their manhood with trnew depend shields and guards.
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coalition of the willing. these are the facts. those phrases sound reminiscent. these are the facts is what secretary of state john kerry told the american public today w, repeatedly insisting this is not iraq. that is what it feels like to many people tonight. we'll have more on that, next. so then the little tiny chipmunks go all the way up...
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with the rationale for intervening in syria sounding a lot like the chatter leading up to the war in iraq. joining me now is tamara al rafai, communications director for the middle east and north africa division of human rights watch. p.j. crowley, public diplomacy, george washington university. former assistant secretary of state for public affairs in the obama administration. and kathleen hick hicks, now se yore adviser for the center of strategic and international studstud dyes. it was striking today how reminiscent john kerry's performance was of the infamous colin powell performance before the u.n. in 2003. there was less theater. he was not holding up vials of substances or throwing to sound bite as colin powell did. one could not help but be struck by the parallels between the two and it is precisely the hangover from the fact that that first
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one turned out to be basically nonsense that it is hard to listen to john kerry with the same kind of open mind to the truthfulness of what he's saying. >> i thought john kerry did a fantastic swrjob of taking that issue head-on. iraq is the background to which this entire discussion about syria is going on. here he is trying to present an intelligence-based assessment just as colin powell did, and, again, in his talk he said right there and then why this is not like iraq. and i thought he was quite convincing. first and foremost, there is no doubt that syria has chemical weapons. there is no doubt that the regime controls those chemical weapons. the only doubt appears to be the extent to which assad, himself, may have personally been involved in any kind of decision about their use. this past week. >> can i say this, first of all, obviously, the iraq situation is weighing heavily on everyone involved in this situation, but,
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in fact, he me just give a taste of that with the invocations of iraq by david cameron, john kerry and president obama today. take a listen. >> i am deeply mindful of the lessons of previous conflicts and in particular the deep concerns in the kuccountry caus by what went wrong with the iraq con fliflict in fwoo2003. this is not iraq. >> our intelligence community carefully reviewed and rereviewed information regarding this attacks and i will tell you it has done so more than mindful of the iraq experience. we will not repeat that moment. >> i recognize that all of us here in the united states, in great britain, in many parts of the world, there's a certain weariness given afghanistan, there's a certain suspicion of
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any military action post-iraq. >> kathleen used the phrase, there is no doubt that syria has chemical weapons, that the regime has them. and that -- i've heard that from a million different people, and i am not a defense reporter. p.j., explain to me how i as a citizen can listen to the phrase, there is no doubt x about a finding of the intelligence community vis-a-vis a foreign country's weapons of mass destruction and not be skeptical. >> well, i mean, there are two facts. there's the presentation today that suggests that 1,400 to 1,500 people were killed by a nerve agent. there's also an undeniable fact that 100,000 people have been killed in a civil war over two years. and that also is the responsibility ultimately of the regime. so i -- i mean, iraq weighs heavily in all of this, but i think there's a fundamentally different approach.
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i think the american people, the world is skeptical about what military power can accomplish. they've made a point, we're going to do a certain thing, we're going to do it for a limited period of time and as david cameron said, there are lots of things we're not doing, and there's a danger -- we saw it in iraq, overreach. there's actually potentially the danger of underreach and not trying to accomplish enough. >> that was the case kerry made today. one of the interesting findings in kerry's assessment today was the number killed in this attack. that was far exceeded the numbers i heard from third. party groups and doctors without borders. 1,429. human rights watch has been doing work on the ground. what do you make of that number? >> we do not have access that the american intelligence has, so we are shocked by this high number. just like we've been shocked by successive attacks against civilians indiscriminately.
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now, kerry's rationale on this is sere wra did breach an international norm against the use of chemical weapons, but our questions at the human rights organization is then what? what's in store for the civilians? what is the plan? what's in store for syrians beyond this? where are we heading? >> that gets to a useful distinction as we think through this issue between the finding of the intelligence community in terms of chemical weapons, number of people killed by them, the fact they were killed by the assad regime. if you say, this looks persuasi persuasive, kathleen, you said you found john kerry persuasive. the question of what to do about it becomes the operational question. i to talk about that with other folks about the legacy of liberal internationalism and the scars from iraq. tamara arifai. pvm j. crowley. msnbc political analyst, kathleen hicks. we have heard that phrase
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before, it has not turned out very well. we're hearing it again. will it hold up this time? we'll go "all in" on that question, next. . [ dad ] 0% apr. 60 months. done and done. [ dad ] in that driveway, is a german-engineered piece of awesome. that i got for 0% apr. good one, dad. thank you, dalton. [ male announcer ] it's the car you won't stop talking about. ever. hurry in to the volkswagen best. thing. ever. event. and get 0% apr for 60 months, now until september 3rd. that's the power of german engineering.
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we know that after a decade of conflict, the american people are tired of war. believe me, i am, too. but fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility. >> that was secretary of state john kerry making the explicit liberal interventionist argument for military action in syria
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earlier today. joining me now, former democratic congressman from virginia, tom periello, serves as president for the center of american progress fund. amy goodman, host of democracy now. eli lake, senior national security correspondent for "newsweek" and the daily beast. tom, you wrote today that you favor military intervention in is seyria and favor it from the perspective john kerry laid out, the perspective i believe samantha power, u.n. ambassador, from a perspective. what is the case there? >> you have 125,000 people dead and also have the use of chemical weapons. one of the great progressive victories of the 20th century was to say though human beings have the capacity to use these particularly toxic and torturous weapons, we're going to set them outside of what the civilized nations can use. there have been exceptions but they've been rare. that red line was not a random line drawn in the sand. it's a line drawn for a reason.
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we put certain things outside the reach of what is acceptable in the human community. 400 dead children. 1 1,400 killed by this gas. assad poking to see how much further he can take this. it's an incredible difficult situation. the stakes are high of action and inaction. we have to be honest about that. this is clearly a situation where we both have a broader humanitarian crisis. what the president is talking about at the moment is a targeted intervention, specifically around the issue of the use of chemical and biological weapons. this is not about a hypothetical possession of the weapons as in iraq, but an actual wruse of weapons against civilians in syria. >> amy, my sense is you're opposed to this intervention. when you hear that argument and see the footage of what happened of the gassing of these 1,400 people which it looks like did happen and looks like was done by at least the assad forces,
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whether it was through that chain of command, do you think enforcing this chemical weapons norm is an important thing for the international community to do? >> you know, it's really interesting to listen to secretary kerry today because he went back in history. he said how we have the chemical weapons ban from after world war i. you look at the number of times the u.s. has violated that. unfortunately, sadly. and you look at napalm and agent orange in the vietnam war. you look at actually just newly declassified cia documents that can foreign policy" got ahold of, the united states, saddam hussein in the '80s knowing he had chemical weapons gave him the coordinants of soldiers. terrible model that the u.s. has set. we don't know who did this. the u.s. government is saying, john kerry said we know that it
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was the syrian government. even if it were, though i am not so confident as a journalist just to accept the word of the u.s. government, of course we see what happened ten years ago with colin powell, who when he gave that speech at the united nations believed what he said and now says that it was the greatest blot on his career, even if it was. i think the u.s. has to be a model in the world for waging peace. what does his -- what is his goal of not even destabilizing the government? >> is there an -- eli, i want to bring you in. is there a tipping point? if it were the case that assad gassed 10,000 people or the case assad gassed 30,000 people -- >> we know close to, perhaps even 200,000 people have died in syria. that is horrendous. these images are horrific. how does this end? ultimately it's going to be diplomacy. why doesn't that start now? why isn't president obama saying this is what happen now? instead of canceling meetings
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with putin in russia because putin supports the syrian government. why not say we have to double down on -- >> eli, john kerry both called assad a, i believe, a thug and a murderer today and then closed this speech by saying, but there's no solution other than a diplomatic and political solution. those two things it seems like fit uncomfortably together. when we come back, eli, i want you to answer whether there is a d diplomatic solution and whether there's a diplomatic strategy, right after this break. food. so we made purina one true instinct. learn more at
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all right. we're back. eli lake, you've been covering state, you've been covering the policy around this question. is there a diplomatic tragedy? is there an alternative to any kind of ending in syria that isn't just the meat grinder of horrific civil war that we've seen for the last several years? >> well, the administration has been pursuing diplomacy for two years with this. they have promised to deliver
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the opposition that they are giving some nonlethal aid to and conferences in geneva. they've reached out several times to try to get the russians to support some kind of u.n. security council resolution. they've tried to negotiate on this question. and the russians have chosen to go all in with bashar assad who appears or at least has been accused of launching a horrific mass casualty chemical weapons attack. so it's kind of stunning to think that it's the american side that needs more diplomacy. i think it's the russians and the iranians have supported their ally in this case, and as my colleague, josh rogen reported this week, you know, the white house wouldn't even send the syrian opposition gas masks. so i think you have a -- for a president who's been reluctant to get involved in this and has, i think, heeded the counsel of those who've said that there really is not much the united states can do militarily in syria, and at the same time, i
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think he's expressed what any president would express, which is that there should be a red line on the use of these chemical weapons. it's not the first alleged incident. >> here's the problem, eli. it seems to me -- >> it's escalated. >> it seems to me like the logic we're following here, tom, i want you to respond to this, is something must be done. anyone who looked at the evidence of the attack thought something must be done. this is something, therefore, something must be done. that seems like the question here. the logic is, what happens after the doing of it? what net positive do human -- what reduces misery and increases joy? what reduces human suffering the day after we send a bunch of cruise missiles? >> i think part of the -- >> tom, then eli. then we'll come to you, amy. >> i think part of it is there's also a false assumption the second we start doing this, all other lanes of conversation stop. the diplomacy which has been exhaustive will continue. samantha power will con to push
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for a resolution at the u.n. and fry desperately to get the russians out of a morally untenable position. we've put a tremendous amount of effort into that. that doesn't stop when there's a strike of some limited capacity proportional to the use of chemical weapons to deter the usage. the idea the second we do this we forget all the other options, this will, as diplomacy often happens based on who feels like they're negotiating from a position of strength. right now assad feels like he's in a position of tremendous strength. after this, potentially that's a different negotiating situation as with the russians. so this isn't going in with one tool all of a sudden. this is using the full range which will include diplomacy, include the international community and hopefully the icc and not look at just one piece. >> this is the week we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the march on washington and not only dr. king was celebrated, who called the united states the greatest -- when he spoke against the war in vietnam. john lewis, the only surviving
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speaker from that march, he is 1 of 54 congress members who said in a letter who signed on to a letter with congress member barbara lee and others who said this has to go to congress. you know, there's no serious action a country can take than to attack another country. why shouldn't we have our elected legislators making this decision? and also when you talk about this is just one tool, tom, i think it's very important to say the first tool should be diplomacy. president obama's going to russia next week. he canceled this meeting with putin to go to moscow to meet with putin. yes, putin is one of the major backers of assad. this is the time to double down and have those meetings. they canceled u.s. diplomats at the hague meeting with russian counterparts. why? this is the time to use all efforts at diplomacy. >> it goes in both directions. what eli was saying i think is true in the sense john kerry has
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worked very hard to put this geneva party together, against a lot of resistance. the argument, eli, i think state has made is their approach to meetings are not, you know, are conditional. so if there's actions like you gas 1,400 people, then there are consequences for that diplomatically. >> well, let me just put it like this. >> what about going to congress? >> we completely agree. >> we know what russia wants. they want assad to win. but we don't know that the americans want the rebels to win because they include factions that include al qaeda. i don't think there's anything really from the russians' perspective to negotiate. they want assad to win. he's the leader of syria. he should put down the civil war. they don't care how he does it. they'll support him throughout. >> that support going to be there i think also after whatever, if there is a military strike. >> sure. >> and after that. >> former democratic congressman from virginia, tom perriello, amy good, and eli lake.
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coming up, it's reported white house officials are calling one major development over the last 36 hours embarrassing. he'll tell us what it was, next. [ male announcer ] getting to know you is how we help you choose the humana medicare plan that works best for you. mi familia. ♪ [ male announcer ] we want to help you achieve your best health, so you can keep doing the things that are important to you. keeping up with them. i love it! [ male announcer ] helping you -- now that's what's important to us. ♪ we go, go, we don't have to go solo ♪ ♪ fire, fire, you can take me higher ♪ ♪ take me to the mountains, start a revolution ♪ ♪ hold my hand, we can make, we can make a contribution ♪ ♪ brand-new season, keep it in motion ♪ ♪ 'cause the rhyme is the reason ♪ ♪ break through, man, it doesn't matter who you're talking to ♪ [ male announcer ] completely redesigned for whatever you love to do. the all-new nissan versa note.
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coming? >> i don't think anybody saw this coming, chris. at some point they must have recognized prime minister cameron was not going to win this vote, but presumably if prime minister cameron had realized that well in advance, he wouldn't have brought it to a vote. so it left the united states in the extraordinarily odd position of going off into a conflict, no a prolonged war, one hopes, but at least a brief military action, if you believe the president's description of it today, without britain at its side. and that's unusual. it's not unprecedented, but it is unusual. it's certainly unusual in the middle east. a place where britain has got great long historic interests. >> amazing moment today, john kerry referring to the u.s. and its oldest ally, france, kind of like revolutionary-era kick at the british who had rebuked the u.s. yesterday. do you have a sense, from your reporting, i found the stagecraft of john kerry's statement today followed by the president's statement very
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confusing. very strange. what is the thinking behind kerry being so far out then the president seeming so much more ambivalent? >> well, i think that much of this has to do with the personalities of the two men. john kerry has been pretty focused on syria for a long time. he certainly was when he was chairman of the senate foreign relations committee. i think that having traveled in the region, i think he probably feels the humanitarian side of this more deeply. i think president obama, while certainly not callous at all to the humanitarian issue, is quite focused on the credibility questions that come out of syria's violation of what the president keeps calling international norms on chemical weapons. so, you know, we've always had this divide even before secretary kerry came in. you'll remember that secretary of state clinton and david petraeus, the former head of the cia were arguing a year ago for arming the rebels.
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the president was not anxious to do that at the time. even now the president says he's going in for the limited purpose of stopping another chemical weapons attack. now, as the conversation you previously had indicates, it's not clear if you just do a day of tomahawk strikes that, in fact is going to have any significant effect on the ground. >> that is precisely i think the fear that even the most optimistic advocates of this intervention have. david sanger from the "the new york times". great, thanks. coming up, we'll close the show because i think it's important to take a moment tonight to think about how in the same week we celebrated the 50th anniversary of martin luther king jr.'s "i have a dream" speech we're also possibly heading into a war. it's hard to reconcile those two things. i want to show you something i hope will make you feel a little bit better. so definitely stay with us.
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finally, on this friday evening, i must say this week has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. it's a week that began with the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of martin luther king's march on washington. we find ourselves here tonight on this holiday weekend, on the verge of war. i see how easy it can be to lose that spirit that i felt in washington when i was there on wednesday that we all felt i think watching the transcendent "i have a dream" speech wednesday night. it's a spirit of progress and hope. and so before we go into this holiday weekend, i wanted to just show you something. it's a very short speech. it was supposed to be given on wednesday actually. it was on the program. it was to have been delivered from the steps of the lincoln memorial, but because the event was running behind schedule, it was cut. the speaker was phillip agnew, head of the dream defenders. you may have seen him on this show as recently as wednesday night, in fact. we've covered this group's occupation of the florida governor's office in the wake of
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the george zimmerman verdict. they're still calling for a trayvon's law to address racial profiling and school-to-prison pipeline. after he was cut from the program, phillip decided to deliver his speech anyway from a balcony in d.c. he gave his speech on camera and put the video on youtube. i've watched it a few times now. i watched it today actually in the middle of this syria craziness. i think it does a better job of anything i saw all week of connecting me back to that spirit of hope. take a look. >> by the time we finish our conversation this morning, another black boy will lay bleeding in the streets of chicago. and as we rest our heads tonight, 300,000 of our veterans will lay their heads homeless. and i would love to explain to you how the hate we spread abroad is the real reason that hatred washes upon our shores, but i only have two minutes, and i could tell you that philadelphia just closed 23 of its schools. at the same time, it makes way
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for a $400 million state-of-the-art prison. north carolina and florida continue to silence their citizens at the ballot box, but i only have two minutes. i could tell you how even as we celebrate dr. king's dream, over 400,000 of our immigrant brothers and sisters languish away in privately owned detention camps. and how we still find our queer brothers and sisters in prisons of the shadows of their closets but i only have two minutes. how our mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, still earn less, have no control over their bodies and are traded and trafficked like slaves. i can tell you how it's easier for someone to buy a gun and put it to their head than to diagnose the illness within it. i only have two minutes. if there was time, i'd tell you millions of young people and queer people and poor people and people of color are asking, what do we do with all this anger, all this fear, this dis appoi disappointment and frustration? this mad that we feel. alas, i only have one minute.
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and with it, this last minute of our conversation i tell you that though all may seem lost that there is a generation of dreamers and lovers and defenders and builders. bubbling, bubbling, bubbling beneath the rubble. beneath your feet you may feel a collective quaking, tremors of a sleeping giant awakening. emanating from fault lines at the arizona/mexico border and in raleigh, austin, and in cleveland, ohio, and chicago, illinois, and even tallahassee, florida. we've come here from every crack, crease and crevice of our country to our capital to say for all those whose cares have been our concern, we're ready. to say that anybody believes we'll be co-opted, oh, we will not be boughten. we're ready. for those that doubt our energy and our resolve and our discipline, we're ready. for those that believe that future fingers may fail the torch, fear not. we're ready. for all those that believe in the power of nonviolence and
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love as unconquerable, we are ready. for 50 years we've wandered and wondered where are the youth, the constant whisper in our ears? and so we have come asking neither permission nor questions but to answer one and say that we are here. believing, indeed, that we have a beautiful history, and the one that we will build in the future will truly astonish the world. we're ready. may the outcome always prosper over income. peace over profit. revolution over revenue. and all peace and power to the people. for anybody that doubts us, don't believe us, just watch. we're ready. >> i've had the chance now to meet this guy and i just have to say, phillip agnew, man, remember that name. he is very much definitely ready. it's been a strange week here, and in d.c. and in new york, and my hope goes out on the eve of this holiday weekend to everyone who is anticipating what might be a military strike by u.s.
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forces, the people that we have asked to serve this country, the folks that are in syria that are cowering, peace to everyone this weekend. that is "all in" for this evening. rachel maddow is off tonight. a special edition of "hardball" with chris matthews starts now. good night. war talk. let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start tonight with this. it's about killing people when all the words are spoken, all the conversation about needing to enforce a red line to protect an international norm, any decision by president obama to bomb syria will kill people. it will kill the guys working the nightschihift. people doing their jobs to put food on their family tables. daddy who went to work that
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